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  • Writer's picturehayley cagan kamis

"Complementary & alternative therapies: providing support to patients and families

Updated: Mar 28, 2020

Originally published in FLAME, 2008

The Center for Hope has now expanded its provision of holistic services to include complementary and integrative care. Consistent with guidelines from the National Institute of Health (NIH), complementary services offer methods used in conjunction with modern medical treatment to help alleviate pain and provide symptom control.

Holistic care is nothing new to the Center for Hope; our nursing staff incorporates a variety of healing modalities, such as Therapeutic Touch and Reflexology, during the course of patient care. As an outgrowth of this integrated approach to healing, the Alternative and Complementary Services division of the Volunteer Department is offering Reiki, an Eastern form of healing touch, as an additional specialized resource for our hospice, palliative care and bereavement patients and families.

“Reiki” is a Japanese word that means “universal life force energy.” It is based on the principle that not only do we have a physical body but we also have an energy body, what NIH refers to as a “bio-field.” Reiki practitioners have been trained to access this energy and facilitate its healing properties, determined by an individual’s need, be it body, mind, emotion and/or spirit. Consistent with the unified definition of healthcare providers, Reiki accepts and promotes healing as “the personal experience of the transcendence of suffering” (Annals of Family Medicine, 2005).

A gentle, hands-on approach, Reiki offers hospice and palliative care patients an integrated modality that promotes stress reduction and comfort. Kim Huff, a former patient with the Center for Hope, received just such benefits during Reiki treatments this past summer. Although Kim and her husband, George, were unfamiliar with Reiki, Kim was willing to try something different to help her through her illness. “I really feel that with Reiki, Kim gained some real peace of mind and comfort in a body that was riddled with cancer,” notes George. “The positive energy that poured from the practitioner’s hands helped her find the inner strength to meet her illness head-on.”

Rev. Bonnie Fee, Director of the Spiritual & Bereavement Department, describes Reiki as providing a “sacred place of inner peace,” an approach that “guides us in self-healing, enhances personal awareness, and allows us to know ourselves at a deeper and more spiritual level.” Additional benefits include decreased agitation, reduced pain, improved sleep and increased energy levels, as well as an overall sense of relaxation and peace – a ‘letting go’ that eases the fear of separation and creates a space for healing.

Such benefits are available to families and caregivers as well, including the opportunity to address and gently work through the worry, anxiety and sense of loss that can be overwhelming in a time of crisis. Patty McLaughlin, a therapist with CFHH’s Acadia House Bereavement & Grief Counseling Center, and Hayley Kamis, Coordinator of the Alternative and Complementary Services program, have joined expanded counseling services by combining Reiki with therapy sessions. McLaughlin notes that as an integrative tool in bereavement counseling, the Reiki experience provides clients with additional avenues to explore their emotions. “By increasing access to issues that might not normally surface,” she adds, “clients participating in joint Reiki and therapy sessions have reported feelings of calmness, reduced anxiety and awareness of their fears and frustrations, leading to greater insight, acceptance and healing of inner turmoil.”

Reiki sessions are provided by comprehensively trained practitioners who are fully screened and supervised by the Volunteer Department. Treatments take place in patients’ homes, at Center for Hope facilities, and at Acadia House, where a weekly outpatient Reiki Clinic is held every Wednesday evening by appointment. Other CFHH Alternative and Complementary Services include massage, pet therapy, guided imagery, and horticultural therapy. Additional programs, including yoga, aromatherapy, music and art therapy, are currently in development.

For more information about the Center for Hope’s Alternative and Complementary Services program, please contact *Hayley Kamis at 908-288-9134 or

NOTE: this phone number and email address are outdated. Please see for contact information.

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